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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
In this China Bayles novel (Dead Man's Bones, A Dilly of a Death, et al.), the hardworking herbalist and former criminal defense attorney is faced with her most intriguing -- and disturbing -- case to date, as she struggles to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding the murder of a beloved high school football coach and the alleged suicide of a woman who was once one of his students.
Coach Tim Duffy's Pecan Springs high school football team has won the state championships two years in a row -- and in Texas, that makes him a demigod. But when China's stepson's principal asks her to conduct a sensitive investigation concerning accusations of sexual misconduct lodged against Duffy, she becomes embroiled in a dark drama that, if exposed, could destroy families and ruin lives. Statutory rape and cold-blooded murder are just the beginning of this mystery…
Amid the hundreds of amateur sleuth mystery series being published, Albert's China Bayles saga is noteworthy for two reasons. First, the books are a unique and highly entertaining blend of by-the-book investigatory procedure, new age sensibilities (Ouija board, tarot cards, etc.), and herbalistic knowledge. Second, the author employs a nearly poetic writing style. In this novel, for example, numerous bleeding heart symbols (the perennial herb, the Catholic icon, a bullet-riddled torso, etc.) subtly accentuate scenes and themes. Quirky, informative, and surprisingly profound, Albert's mysteries are an absolute delight to read -- head and shoulders above most other amateur whodunits. Paul Goat Allen